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He looked at Isabelle for only a brief second before he looked away, as if he had much more important things to get to.

“I, um . . .” Isabelle tucked a wavy lock of blond hair behind one ear and looked from Rishi to Dimple and back again. “At Elm, the guys . . .”

Dimple waited, curious. Rishi had his casually bored expression on.

But whatever Isabelle had started to say, she obviously decided she couldn’t finish. Instead, she cleared her throat and said to Rishi, “My dad knows your dad.”

“Okay,” Rishi said, still seeming less than enthused.

“You never said your dad was the CEO of Global Comm. My dad, like, totally wants to invite your parents over for dinner. He says Kartik Patel’s a total legend.” Isabelle said this last part wonderingly.

Dimple could see her trying to fit the two pieces together: The respect that Rishi’s dad obviously garnered combined with the fact that Rishi was absolutely the dorkiest guy she’d ever known. There were cracks in her perceptions, and she was trying to make sense of them. It was almost fascinating, like watching the part of a wildlife documentary when the gazelle realizes it’s being stalked by a lion. How will it respond? What will it do next? Dimple thought, in a documentary narrator’s deep, polished voice.

And then what Isabelle had said sank in. Dimple glanced at Rishi sharply. CEO of Global Comm? They, like, provided Internet services to basically the entire nation. And his dad was the freaking CEO ? When she’d asked before, he’d only said his dad was “a corporate executive.” But the CEO was the big boss, basically. Of a multibillion-dollar company.

Dimple studied him closer while he talked to Isabelle, but couldn’t see it. She’d always assumed the ultrarich kids were like Evan or Hari, but Rishi was so . . . Rishi. Goofy and funny and talented and sweet and so serious about his culture. Rishi seemed so much more like Dimple than like Isabelle and the rest of them.

Immediately, before she could stop it, that famous Emily Brontë quote popped into her head: “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Dimple blushed and coughed to hide her embarrassment at having had such a gooey, stupid thought.

“I’ll pass on the message,” Rishi said nonchalantly, and then turned to Dimple, effectively dismissing Isabelle. “So, I heard about this movie playing at the IMAX theatre . . .”

Isabelle hesitated, looking from Rishi to Dimple and then back again in a slightly frustrated way. As if there was more she wanted to say. But, like before, she decided against it. Dimple watched her walk away before turning to Rishi.

“What movie?” she asked, since Rishi had never completed his sentence.

“Nothing. I was just done with that conversation.”

Dimple laughed. Really, it was sort of refreshing to have a boy prefer her company to a girl like Isabelle’s. That literally had never happened before.

Rishi smiled and shrugged. “So, about tonight. Pick you up at seven?”

“Sure.” Dimple reeeally hoped he didn’t notice how weirdly high-pitched her voice sounded.

CHAPTER 30

Dimple pulled at the hem of the kurta she’d bought with Mamma. The thing had frayed in the wash, so the silvery gray now just looked gray, a total noncolor, like something she’d washed and worn for a decade. She almost wished she’d taken Mamma’s advice and bought something a little more colorful.

Almost. Times weren’t that desperate yet.

And anyway, Dimple thought, straightening her shoulders and adjusting her glasses, she didn’t need to look pretty for this . . . non-date. It was irrelevant what she looked like, really.

When Dimple turned around, Celia was sprawled on her bed watching, chin propped up on one hand. “You need something sexier.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be sexting Evan?” Dimple grumbled.

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